National Writing Project

350 Writing Teachers Convene in DC for Spring Meeting

Keynote Speaker Addresses New Book on Classroom Silence

For Immediate Release


Washington, DC, March 31, 2010 – Teachers of writing and other disciplines from across the nation met here last Friday for the National Writing Project's Spring Meeting, which included a full day of roundtable discussions on various facets of writing instruction in the classroom. More than 350 teachers from 41 states and the District of Columbia attended the annual Spring Meeting.

Headlining Friday's events was a keynote speech by Katherine Schultz, director of the Philadelphia Writing Project and professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education—and author of Rethinking Classroom Participation: Listening to Silent Voices (Teachers College Press, 2009).

Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project, said, "The Spring Meeting is an essential component of the continuous professional learning that we offer teachers of writing and teachers in other disciplines who increasingly are involved in teaching writing. For the hundreds of teachers attending from our nationwide network of sites, the knowledge gained and insights learned will benefit the students at their schools and school districts back home."

In her remarks, keynote speaker Katherine Schultz suggested that teachers take a nuanced view toward classroom silence, understanding its complex functions and regarding it as a form of participation. It requires new ways of listening in order to deconstruct the meaning of a student's silence and identify its function, which, Schultz's research shows, ranges from reticence to reflection. As an academic, Schultz began thinking seriously about silence after the publication of her book Listening: A Framework for Teaching Across Differences.

Professor Schultz said, "Most kids are silent in the classroom and loud on the playground, so teachers need to ask 'What's that all about?' I hope people will come away with a greater appreciation of the many meanings of silence and become intrigued by the idea that in a classroom silence can count as participation."

Highlights of the more than dozen sessions at the NWP Spring Meeting included:

  • Early History Project: The NWP is conducting a study of the first 20 years of the writing project, which also will serve to model a thinking and writing process for use in classrooms or in professional development workshops.
  • Reading and Responding to the "Stanford Report on Professional Learning in the Learning Profession," which examines what research has revealed about professional learning that improves teachers' practice and student learning.
  • Gaining Recognition, Acquiring Resources, and Advocating for Your Writing Project Site: Strategies were shared on maintaining a strong presence in a university setting.
  • Beginning English Learners Can Write: Addressed what writing looks like for beginning English learners, the importance of writing for them, and classroom strategies for developing and implementing this kind of writing instruction.
  • Perspectives on the Common Core Standards: Provided an update as well as an opportunity for teachers who have interacted with the Common Core standards in their states to share their stories.
  • Reflections on NWP Partnerships with Community Colleges: Preliminary Lessons Learned from a Landscape Study, conducted by Inverness Research.

The National Writing Project is the most significant coordinated effort to improve writing in America. NWP sites, located on more than 200 university and college campuses, serve more than 135,000 participants annually. NWP continues to add new sites each year, with the goal of placing the writing project within reach of every teacher in America. Through its professional development model, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit